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Leak reveals Western companies with face biometrics licenses from Russia’s NtechLab

Leak reveals Western companies with face biometrics licenses from Russia’s NtechLab
 

Intel, SpaceX, Philip Morris, and several other U.S. companies were spotted in a leaked database of companies that obtained a license to use FindFace, a facial recognition tool developed by Russian biometrics company NtechLab, according to a new Insider investigation.

The business-focused publication obtained the information from an anonymous source, which reportedly said more than 1,100 entities were spotted in the database, including companies and government agencies from more than 60 countries.

Some of these licensees are face biometrics competitors doing market research, while others were business partners, while others resold NtechLab biometric software to companies.

Further, the leaked document seems to establish that NtechLab has licensed its technology to companies, police, and military agencies around the world, while also nurturing Russia’s state surveillance infrastructure.

Among the companies who reportedly licensed NtechLab face biometrics are security giant Honeywell, tobacco company Philip Morris International, a seller of Marlboro and other brands of cigarettes, along with Nokia, and Bosch’s satellite-focused subsidiary Starlink.

Multiple face biometrics service providers reportedly appear in the leaked database, including NEC, Genetec, and Dataworks Plus.

The list also counts public institutions in Russia, such as the Russian Federal Security Service, the Federal Penitentiary System, and various school and metro systems.

An unnamed NtechLab spokesperson confirmed that at least some of the entities on the list have indeed acquired licenses from it, but also said that organizations may have licensed its technology without ever using it. The representative says NtechLab currently has roughly 300 active clients in 20 countries.

The company has also received investments from the state’s administration in the past.

In fact, the company raised $15 million from the Russian Direct Investment Fund and an unidentified source which Insider says is a UAE investment fund in 2020, and one year later the Russian Foundation for Technological Development would have provided NtechLab with a grant of $1.3 million in 2021.

The leaked database comes weeks after the Russian government stepped up its biometric surveillance efforts in an attempt to further monitor ‘dissident’ journalists.

A similar client list leak affected U.S.-based facial recognition provider Clearview in early-2020.

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